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Brisbane’s Tongan Kava Club experiences a touch of the Christmas spirit

Brisbane, AUSTRALIA (20 December 2019): Brisbane’s Tongan Kava Clubs are celebrating the Christmas spirit with the Australian Government’s pilot programme being launched on 17 December 2019 allowing an increase of 2kg to 4kg of kava permitted per adult entering the border.

It served as a double-blessing for the Sia Melie Kava Club of Moorooka on Friday night, who were recipients of a $800 grant from the Brisbane City Council Moorooka Ward, after successful negotiations by the Brisbane Tongan Community Inc.

In mid-2019 Brisbane Tongan Community President Rev. Maile Molitika and committee members met with Moorooka Ward Councillor Steve Griffiths, highlighting the positive contributions of the Moorooka-based Sia Melie kava club and the work of kava clubs in the Brisbane community ranging from musical contributions to being an outlet to promote men’s mental health.

“The kava club provides a platform where our Tongan men can gather and share their feelings and fellowship with other fathers, brothers, husbands and young men in the safety of the kava circle,” Rev Maile stated.

Brisbane Tongan Community Public Liaison Officer, Sulieni Layt, stated that the kava clubs play a pivotal role in the broader well-being of the community with a particular focus on developing their musical talents.

“The music that accompanies our traditional tau‘olunga performances, our musical concerts, our local radio programmes, our birthdays and our weddings are from our kava clubs who truly are the heart beat of our community,” Sulieni explained.

“Their random acts of kindness and charitable work often takes places in the background, unnoticed and understated, yet their contribution to fund raising efforts surpasses all,” Sulieni added.

The $800 grant will be used by the Sia Melie Kava Club to purchase desperately needed musical instruments to continue their outreach work in sharing their musical giftings with the broader community.

The funds were presented by the Brisbane Tongan Community to the President of the Sia Melie Kava Club, Mr Lisiate Lomaloma.

The Brisbane Tongan Community drafted a strong submission to the Australian Government earlier in the year on behalf of the fifteen plus active Tongan Kava Clubs in Brisbane to build a business case for the kava importation increase from 2kg to 4kg.
The Brisbane Tongan Community look forward to working with the Tongan Kava Clubs of Brisbane in sourcing ongoing assistance to ensure this backbone of the community is fully supported.

‘Good Start’ program offering Brisbane Tongans a fresh start

Brisbane, AUSTRALIA (24 February 2020): Queensland Health’s ‘Good Start’ program is offering the Brisbane Tongan Community, as well as Māori and Pacific Islanders, the chance to make a fresh start in their health and well-being.

Multicultural Health Coach, Tēvita Peu, spoke exclusively to Brisbane’s Voice of Tonga radio program about the ways the Brisbane Tongan Community can improve the overall health and well-being of families within a Tongan cultural context.

Speaking on air to the Brisbane Tongan Community, Tēvita shared insights into a free community initiative called the ‘Healthy Kids, Healthy Families Program’.

“Our program works towards improving the health and well-being of Māori and Pacific Islander children and their families,” Tēvita told the Voice of Tonga on Radio 4EB FM.

“The program aims to prevent and reduce the risk of chronic disease and obesity by working with families to build their knowledge, skills and confidence about healthy eating, physical activity and lifestyle practices,” he added.

The Healthy Kids, Healthy Families Program is a free, eight–week program where Tongans work with a multicultural health coach to achieve their health goals as a family. Together, they explore topics such as culture, nutrition, physical activity and positive behaviour practices, to help their family towards making healthier choices as part of their everyday lives.

Brisbane Tongan Community Treasurer, Mele Ngauamo, noted that with the support of the coaches, Tongan families will feel empowered to adopt healthier lifestyle practices.

“They give you ongoing guidance and support throughout the eight weeks and moderate check–ins with your family up to 24 months post program,” Mele said.

“It’s also interesting to learn how preparing meals, role modelling positive language and practical tips contribute to a healthy weight,” Mele stated.
Based out of the Children’s Health Queensland Hospital and Health Service, Tēvita Peu
represents a close-knit group of Tongan and Pacific Islander health professionals pioneering
healthy choices to ensure the Brisbane Tongan Community live longer and enjoy a healthier

Park Uniting Church Tongan Congregation benefits from BTC’s Green Project

Brisbane, AUSTRALIA (30 March 2019): The Park Uniting Church Tongan Congregation at Highgate Hill near Brisbane’s CBD has benefited from the Brisbane Tongan Community’s Green Project.

In partnership with Councillor Jonathan Sri of The Gabba Ward, BTC were empowered to beautify the footpaths, gardens and areas in The Gabba Ward that are frequented by the Tongan Community.

On a wet day in the Sunshine State capital, committee members sourced a selection of plants commonly found in the Kingdom of Tonga to beautify the exterior of the Park Uniting Church, whilst positively contributing to the environment.

Led by Fainga‘a, Rev Maile Molitika, Siale, Mele and others, the day was productive and concluded with a communal lunch with members of the Tonga High School alumni (Brisbane Chapter) who were using the church hall for their monthly meeting.

The flora and greenery were mostly sourced from Tongan homes in Griffin and around the northern suburbs of Brisbane and included kalosipani (Frangipani), sī (Ti plant), paame (Palms), siaine (Banana trees), siale (Tahitian Gardenia) and talo (Taro).
One of the goals of the Brisbane Tongan Community Green Project is a community garden that Tongan farmers can utilise for the preservation of agricultural skills amongst the youth as well as a community garden for the diaspora residing in Brisbane.

Queensland surgeons donate Zeiss Microscope to the Kingdom’s Vaiola Hospital

Brisbane, AUSTRALIA (27 April 2019): The Kingdom’s Vaiola Hospital has benefited from the generous donation of a Zeiss Microscope from Brisbane-based members of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons.

The Pacific Islands Project was founded in 1995 and has changed and adapted over the years in response to the changing needs and priorities in each Pacific country. What originated as a program focused on service provision by visiting clinical teams has evolved to provide education and capacity building across the region to address priorities identified by Pacific surgeons and medical leaders.

The Brisbane Tongan Community (BTC) were thrilled to provide assistance with logistics and consultation with Logan Hospital under the auspices of the Pacific Islands Project in consultation with Associate Professor Bernard Whitfield from Queensland Health’s Department of Otolaryngology.
BTC President, Reverend Maile Molitika, led a delegation of committee members to inspect the Zeiss Microscope at Queensland Health’s Logan Hospital prior to its careful packaging in preparation for the long sea journey to the Friendly Islands.

Dr Leiukamea Saafi of the Biological Engineering Section for the ENT Theatre at Vaiola Hospital together with ENT surgeon Dr Sepiuta Lopati will await the arrival of Associate Professor Whitfield who is scheduled to conduct specific training on the ground at Vaiola Hospital in June 2019.

Reverend Maile Molitika said, “the microscope comes as a huge benefit for the Tongan people to help improve health services offered by Tonga’s Department of Health.”

“The Brisbane Tongan Community are grateful to Professor Whitfield and the Pacific Island Project of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons for their generosity and willingness to assist Vaiola Hospital as this will truly benefit the people of the Kingdom of Tonga,” Reverend Maile Molitika added.

The Zeiss microscope weighs in at approximately 180 kgs and the dimensions are 70 cm x 70 cm and 180 cm tall.
The Pacific Island Project of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons also funded its delicate transportation from Brisbane, Australia to the Kingdom of Tonga by container ship.

The Kingdom of Tonga is one of eleven Pacific nations included in the program. The program is supported by the Australian Government and works in partnership with national counterparts, including health professionals and hospitals to assist Pacific Ministries of Health to improve the health of their populations.

For more information, please visit their website at

Increase in kava importation to Australia strongly supported by the Brisbane Tongan Community

Brisbane, AUSTRALIA (4 May 2019): The Australian Government conducted a consultation process through a Pilot Program to ease restrictions on the importation of kava for personal use into Australia.

The Pilot Program is a result of comments made by the Australia Prime Minister, Hon. Scott Morrison, during a joint press conference with the Prime Minister of Vanuatu, Hon. Charlot Salawi Tabimasmas in Port Vila, Vanuatu on 16 January 2019.

“We have agreed that we would be working to put a pilot program together to ease some of the limitations on importation of kava into Australia,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.

“But that is an expression of our interest in developing trade in the region. Kava is an important product which is produced here [in Vanuatu] and has a great and successful market around the world,” Scott Morrison added.

The Prime Minister’s support for further consultation on an increase of importation of kava into Australia is further echoed by the Tongan diaspora in Australia, including Brisbane’s vibrant Tongan Community.

The three areas that the pilot program is focussed on include the proposal to increase the quantity of kava that may be imported for personal use to 4kg; approach to evaluate the pilot program after two years; and the duration of the pilot program.
There are in excess of 10 regular kava clubs in Brisbane who meet regularly and consume kava. Aside from the cultural and some added health benefits of kava consumption, the kava clubs serve as key ingredients in the successful recipe of the Brisbane Tongan Community.

From providing a place of resilience for Tongan men and a mechanism to avoid early signs of mental health, the kava clubs also provide the financial backbone to fund raising ventures for community development and visitors from the Kingdom of Tonga.

President of the Brisbane Tongan Community steering committee, Rev. Maile Molitika, who is a member of the Sia Melie Kava Club in Moorooka added that kava has a strong musical element seldom acknowledged outside the kava circle.

“Not only do the kava clubs provide music for traditional dancing during weddings, birthdays and fund raisers, but we also keep alive the compositions of Tongan composers and musicians both past and present.”

In 2018 the Mamana Tongan Academy of Performing Arts celebrated the importance of cultural and musical preservation by holding a massive concert that included an inter-club competition where kava clubs had to compose a musical melody to accompany lyrics composed by a local Tongan composer. The result was outstanding and the collaborative recordings are receiving ongoing airplay on Radio 4EB FM’s Voice of Tonga radio programme for the enjoyment of a larger audience.

The Brisbane Tongan Community Incorporated provided a strong submission during the consultation process that closed on 22 March 2019 through the Department of Health’s Office of Drug Control.

Tongans attend historical Parliament House Commonwealth Day Luncheon

Brisbane, AUSTRALIA (9 March 2020): The Brisbane Tongan Community were guests of the Royal Commonwealth Society of Queensland attending a Commonwealth Day Royal Luncheon at Queensland’s historic Parliament House in Brisbane City.
Hosted by Gary Hardgrave MP, the Commonwealth Day Luncheon was attended by a varied cross-section of Queensland society, including representatives of the Brisbane Tongan Community as the local diplomatic corps and multicultural community leaders from Commonwealth nations.

The Guest of Honour was the Patron of the Royal Commonwealth Society, the Governor of Queensland, His Excellency The Honourable Paul de Jersey AC QC, who delivered a Commonwealth Day message on behalf of the Queen of Australia and the Commonwealth, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

Brisbane Tongan Community (BTC) Cultural Co-ordinator, Mrs Siale Molitika, shared her emotions upon being part of this most regal occasion.

“To be sitting inside the Parliament House in the state known as the Queen’s Land (Queensland) is such a surreal experience and one that I will forever treasure as a Tongan,” Mrs Siale Molitika said.

BTC event co-ordinator, Mrs Toakase Layt stated, “the Commonwealth of nations symbolise a common bond that unites countries such as Australia and the Kingdom of Tonga.”

“The next generation can never forget that in 1953 Their Majesties Queen Elizabeth II and Queen Sālote Tupou III were the only two reigning queens in the Commonwealth, if not the world, at the same time,” Mrs Toakase Layt added.

Commonwealth Day is the annual celebration of the Commonwealth of Nations, often held on the second Monday in March. It is marked by an Anglican service in Westminster Abbey, normally attended by Queen Elizabeth II as Head of the Commonwealth along with the Commonwealth Secretary-General and Commonwealth High Commissioners in London. The Queen delivers an address to the Commonwealth, which is broadcast throughout the world.

In 2006 Queen Elizabeth II delivered her Commonwealth Day address from St. Andrew's Cathedral, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia; this formed part of the lead-up to the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne.

The Kingdom of Tonga and the United Kingdom share a long and enduring bond, particularly between the Royal House of Windsor and the Royal House of Tupou.

Royalty captivates Brisbane as Her Royal Highness visits the Sunshine State

Brisbane, AUSTRALIA (15 September 2019): Tongan culture and flare were on full display this weekend as Her Royal Highness Princess Lātūfuipeka Halaevalu Mata‘aho Tuku‘aho attended a busy weekend of events with the Brisbane Tongan Community.

Centred around the Mamana Tongan Academy of Performing Arts, Her Royal Highness, who is the esteemed High Commissioner of the Kingdom of Tonga to Australia with residency in Canberra, never missed a beat, commencing the visit with an exclusive VIP dinner at the Skyline Room of the Calamvale Hotel for the close family and associates of the Mamana Tongan Academy of Performing Arts.

An early start to Saturday morning featured a combined Tongan community exercise and zumba session led by Gold Coast Tongan Personal Trainer Lino Hola from EMF Fitness Club at Surfers Paradise. 
The key event of the weekend was the Spirit of Mamana – Pō Faiva Cultural Night held at the Unidus Community Centre in Willawong. Her Royal Highness was serenaded by a selection of Brisbane Kava Clubs before the stage erupted into a vibrant array of traditional Tongan dances and songs, performed by Tongan youth from the Tongan Academy of Performing Arts, most of whom were born and raised outside of the Kingdom of Tonga. 
Guests included the reigning Miss Heilala 2019-2020, Yehenara Soukop as well as Miss Fe‘unu Koula Tau‘olunga Senior from New Zealand, Miss Melenaite Fifita.

Due to a medical emergency, the showcase was sadly cut short. 
With the sad passing of the Prime Minister of Tonga on Thursday, 12 September 2019, the late Samuela ‘Akilisi Pōhiva, Her Royal Highness was Guest of Honour, when the Brisbane Tongan Community Inc. (BTC) held a combined Tongan Community church service entitled the “Spirit of Unity – Pō Fakafeta‘i”, drawing together Tongan youth groups, gospel singers, choirs, worship teams and churches from a diverse range of Brisbane Tongan church denominations.  
Held at the Life&Legacy Church Centre in Hillcrest, Her Royal Highness was surrounded by a sea of black as many of the community adorned mourning attire for the occasion.

President of the Brisbane Tongan Community, Rev Sione Maile Molitika, told BTC Media that any opportunity to unite our community to worship God was a huge honour, especially in the presence of a Senior Member of the Tongan Royal Family.

“Her Royal Highness is a unifying factor who has the ability to bring our communities together and is also a custodian of Tongan culture and we were so blessed that the Princess would visit the Sunshine State to spend time with her people, especially after the sad loss of the Honourable Prime Minister,” Rev Maile Molitika added.  

The Royal Party included a delegation of staff from the Tonga High Commission in Canberra who provided consular services over the weekend to the growing Brisbane Tongan Community, including Re-admission ceremonies and passport renewals.  

The Brisbane Tongan Community consists of well over 6,000 Tongans, in addition to migration from first and second generation migrants from New Zealand and inter-state, including the surrounding areas of the Gold Coast, Logan, Sunshine Coast, Ipswich and Moretan Bay.  

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